Since we first began visiting the island, we’ve spent almost every New Year’s Eve celebration on Bequia.
The first, was when we arrived on Dec. 31, 1988, and had no idea at all what to expect – from the island, the people, or their celebrations. Having just travelled all the way to the Caribbean from Calgary – a trip which at that time took us two days and an overnight in St. Vincent – we were bushed and went to bed before 12:00, only to be wakened shortly thereafter by what sounded like gunfire.
We were staying at the then-still-open Plantation House, in one of the little cabins, since the central building had recently burned to the ground. The open-air bar was doubling as a reception/office and restaurant for the time being. We had never been big on New Year’s Eve celebrations in any case, as neither of us like crowds or celebrating with people we don’t know, so we didn’t mind leaving the party before it even got started. But we had no idea until the next day what exactly we had missed. And we weren’t to know until a couple of years later when we came back to Bequia again that New Year’s Eve, or Old Year’s Night as it’s known here, is really a big deal and everyone on the island becomes involved in some way or another. (NYE 1989 we spent drinking champagne on a plane that was sitting on a tarmac at Mirabel Airport in Montreal, stuck due to bad weather.) And the Bequia celebration goes on, for those with the necessary stamina, and on and on until about 6:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day morning. Now that we own a house that’s situated above the main road, we are witnesses every year to the endless stream of traffic and people, after midnight celebrations end in town at The Frangi around 12:30, of revellers making their way towards the all-night beach celebration held annually at De Reef in Lower Bay. Then the next morning we hear and see all the stragglers drunkenly weaving their way back into town. It’s tradition!
We did take part in this all-night ritual – once … but with age we prefer to sit on our verandah, eat a lovely late dinner, then drink champagne at midnight while listening to Eric Clapton’s Layla, full blast.
Over on neighbouring-island Mustique, the celebrations begin at 7 p.m. to mark midnight and the New Year in Europe, since most of the homeowners and vacationers on the island are from the UK. We could always walk up over the hill and see the fireworks display they set off every year, although that was kind of tiny and unspectacular, viewing it from 6 miles away.
Since Old Year’s Night 1999, there has been a fireworks display organized on Bequia every year and run by several friends who do take their job rather seriously, even though they refer to themselves as the “Bang Gang”. They’ve become more professional as the years have passed and we very much look forward to enjoying the show from what we consider to be the best view in the harbour!
Here’s the link to a professional video created of last year’s display. And my not-so-professional video of what we saw from The View last year.
So that’s what we’ll be doing this evening to celebrate the end of the Old Year and the beginning of 2016!
My hope to all of you reading this is that everyone enjoys an equally satisfying celebration – no matter where you are, who you are with, and whatever you plan to do to mark Auld Lang Syne!
(Oh, and those gunshots we heard the very first Old Year’s Night we spent on Bequia … They turned out to be boat flares – dozens and dozens of boat flares, mostly red in colour, that were being shot off from boats in the harbour as well as from land. People still shoot them off now, even with the advent of fireworks, but not as many … so not nearly as dangerous any longer. You just never knew where those burning blobs of red phosphorous would land!)
You are most welcome here! Enjoying the view with me from my trailer or verandah.